Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Black Dahlia: Grade F

The Black Dahlia (2006)

Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank. Director=Brian De Palma.

Not even Scarlett’s ruby red lips can save this film. I confess I gave up after one hour. There was just nothing there. The story is set in LA in the 1940’s and involves two detectives (Hartnett and Eckhart), searching for a killer. Each has a romantic interest (Swank and Johansson, respectively) but no romantic feeling is conveyed. The directing is abominable. Actors spew out their lines without feeling or expression, at a rate so fast it verges on unintelligibility and certainly allows no time for nuance. The photography relies on the lame device of slanting sunlight through louvered blinds, no matter what time of day it was supposed to be. Did nobody have electricity in the 1940’s? Worse, these scenes also use backlights and highlights that come from nowhere. If you can’t even get a cliché right, what hope is there? The so-called action is limited to scene after scene of talking heads commenting on things we didn’t see. The only good thing I noticed was that they got the period cars right, and they were beautiful, but predictably, all spotlessly clean and shiny. The real mystery is how so much talent can be utterly wasted.

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